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Keinnicht
2012-01-24, 02:01 PM
So I've been wondering about this, since I'm starting a campaign with a few of my friends and I suspect at least one of them (one in particular, she's Chaotic Neutral, and I'm pretty sure she's going to play it as the kind of CN that's actually CE) is going to not follow their alignment all that well. So I have a few etiquette questions on this:

-Is it suggested to warn the player that their alignment is going to change? It seems fair, but on the other hand, having to actually say "Just to let you know, if you don't stop killing babies for sport, you're going to become evil" seems a bit ridiculous.

-How many evil acts does it take, in your guys' opinion, to move someone from neutral to evil or good to neutral? Obviously one or two extremely evil acts would do it, but what about more minor ones, like casting animate dead, or stealing, or some of other "kind of evil" things?

PersonMan
2012-01-24, 02:07 PM
I'd say 'if you don't act your alignment, it may change without warning or your knowledge'. They won't know that they went evil until Smite Evil, Detect Evil & Co. come into play.

The second...I don't actually know. I've never really dealt with alignment drift (as I play with alignment as something that almost never matters).

NikitaDarkstar
2012-01-24, 02:09 PM
Yes giving a player ONE warning is prudent. If they keep it up and their alignment changes and they don't like it, well they can either deal with it or atone for their sins... (which can be fun in itself.)

Now for what will cause it? Personally I'd look at the motivation between their actions and it will most likely be many small things adding up to causing the shift. Then again if you have a character that''s kicking puppies, killing babies and just generally being an a**, well yhea that will get them evil in a hurry.

I wouldn't say spells and such would do it. If he's casting animate dead to help defend a city from invaders, is that evil? Not really, it's tasteless and will creep people out, but isn't it more evil to let people die if it can be avoided?

It also depends on how strict you're going to be about Good vs Evil and alignments. If an Evil spell is Always Evil no matter the reasons behind using it, then yes, using them will make you Evil. (And Good spells will make you Good.)

hamishspence
2012-01-24, 02:30 PM
-How many evil acts does it take, in your guys' opinion, to move someone from neutral to evil or good to neutral? Obviously one or two extremely evil acts would do it, but what about more minor ones, like casting animate dead, or stealing, or some of other "kind of evil" things?

Depends on the splatbook- though all may have useful insights:

Champions of Ruin.
"Neutral and even Good characters may be driven to them from time to time. But the repeated, deliberate use of many of these (evil acts) is the mark of an evil character."

Heroes of Horror
"An antihero might have some great tragedy or dark secret in her past, or she might make use of evil means toward an ultimately good end. In D&D, such a character is probably neither good or evil but a flexible neutral"
(on Dread Necromancers):
"Performing evil acts is a basic feature of the class, but some dread necromancers manage to balance evil acts with good intentions, remaining solidly neutral"
So- if you have an ultimately good end, and good intentions, you might be able to maintain a neutral alignment, especially if those evil acts are minor ones like casting [evil] spells (such as animate dead)- Fiendish Codex 2 ranks casting evil spells as the least corrupt of the listed Corrupt Acts. Stealing from the needy is worse.

But without those, or if the evil acts get big, you're likely to drift to Evil alignment.

Mark Hall
2012-01-24, 02:42 PM
In Hackmaster, not playing your alignment results in an honor hit. Once your honor is in the toilet, then you can change your alignment and work your way back up the honor chart (a long, hard slog).

erikun
2012-01-24, 02:55 PM
If they aren't acting their alignment, then just change their alignment to reflect how they are actually acting.

You'll probably want to mention it to them if it is something that would affect class features, along with possibly offering alternatives (such as alternate deities for a cleric) when appropriate.

NichG
2012-01-24, 03:04 PM
I generally feel its more important to encourage players to act their character rather than their alignment. Otherwise you often get a lot of flat alignment stereotypes instead of full-fledged characters. Plus you get the Paladin syndrome as sometimes players will use this as an excuse to be alignment cop, which honestly tends to distract from game even if its entertaining once.

So generally what I'd do is say 'You can all put down whatever alignment you want, and as far as class prereqs and the like thats the one that counts. However, extreme deeds can invisibly stain you with a certain alignment temporarily, and for the purposes of spell interaction that alignment will override your base one. If you do something very evil, I'm not going to take away your Neutral-only class, but detect evil may ping you as evil for awhile.'

So for example, someone casting Detect Evil on a wizard right after he cast an [Evil] spell would register evil, but an hour later would not. Someone casting Detect Evil on the neutral rogue after he stole coins from a beggar would detect evil for a day or two (assuming no further evil acts), etc.

NikitaDarkstar
2012-01-24, 03:08 PM
I generally feel its more important to encourage players to act their character rather than their alignment. Otherwise you often get a lot of flat alignment stereotypes instead of full-fledged characters. Plus you get the Paladin syndrome as sometimes players will use this as an excuse to be alignment cop, which honestly tends to distract from game even if its entertaining once.

So generally what I'd do is say 'You can all put down whatever alignment you want, and as far as class prereqs and the like thats the one that counts. However, extreme deeds can invisibly stain you with a certain alignment temporarily, and for the purposes of spell interaction that alignment will override your base one. If you do something very evil, I'm not going to take away your Neutral-only class, but detect evil may ping you as evil for awhile.'

So for example, someone casting Detect Evil on a wizard right after he cast an [Evil] spell would register evil, but an hour later would not. Someone casting Detect Evil on the neutral rogue after he stole coins from a beggar would detect evil for a day or two (assuming no further evil acts), etc.

THIS I like! :D

hamlet
2012-01-24, 03:11 PM
In Hackmaster, not playing your alignment results in an honor hit. Once your honor is in the toilet, then you can change your alignment and work your way back up the honor chart (a long, hard slog).

To be fair, it also has the alignment wheel, which does a lot to quantify alignment drift and just "how far" one can go in any given direction. It's complicated, but an interesting concept nonetheless.

As for the OP, I'd simply recommend talking to the player in question and hashing out the issue. Explain what your problem is and explain how you would approach it and come to an understanding. Perhaps they really want to play CE but don't know that's what they want.

Or perhaps they're just a jerk.

Frozen_Feet
2012-01-24, 03:17 PM
You lampshade it (my version of "warning"), and if the player continues, their alignment changes. It's the same with any personality trait: for example, if a player claims his character is honorable but demonstrates the opposite, you say "that's not very honorable" and have other game elements react as appropriate.

This should only become a problem if the player insists their character is X despite all the evidence to the contrary, or if different players have wildly different idea of what X is or means.

With D&D alignment especially, it seems like clashes happen because people have their own ideas of it that have absolutely nothing to do with what reads in the rules. The actual rules for alignment are fairly easy, and notably, allow for alignment to change without repercussions (outside some corner cases most often having to do with classes tied to certain morality).

Waddacku
2012-01-24, 06:21 PM
If it's actually a change in behavior, then, well, it's a change in alignment. You might want to point it out.
If they put one thing on the paper, but their actions from the start do not agree with it, then the paper has been wrong from the start. Alignments are descriptions. You put the alignment that best represents how the character is played.

Jay R
2012-01-24, 06:34 PM
I know people who think they are good listeners, but aren't. I know people who think they are fair-minded, but aren't. I know people who think they are funny, but aren't.

Why should alignment be any different? The character sheet shows that person's self-image.

As soon as a character is are clearly acting inconsistent with the alignment needed by their class, the player should be told that he or she might lose it. But if they are consistently Lawful (or whatever), then that is indeed the character's alignment. My True Neutral thief has just been told that he is actually Neutral Good. (An impeccably correct decision by the DM, by the way. I was wondering how long before anybody noticed that the thief was always deliberately more self-sacrificing than any other.)

I'll never say a PC cannot take an action. Sometimes I'll jog his conscience a bit.

STsinderman
2012-01-24, 07:45 PM
I'm not certain what the major issue is. Unless it is relevant to the class or feat's they have taken? After all the sheet is just a reflection of what that the character is, does it really matter if she turns out to be evil? Perhaps even use her degrading morals to your advantage and write it into the plot.

Serpentine
2012-01-24, 08:29 PM
I'm not certain what the major issue is. Unless it is relevant to the class or feat's they have taken? After all the sheet is just a reflection of what that the character is, does it really matter if she turns out to be evil? Perhaps even use her degrading morals to your advantage and write it into the plot.Who said it's a major issue? This is all about simply how to handle it - how, for example, to work out "if she turns out to be evil".
-How many evil acts does it take, in your guys' opinion, to move someone from neutral to evil or good to neutral? Obviously one or two extremely evil acts would do it, but what about more minor ones, like casting animate dead, or stealing, or some of other "kind of evil" things?I (sort of...) use an alignment chart, with a sliding scale - so from "Pure Evil" to "Absolutely Saintly", "Anarchic" to "Axiomatic", and everything in-between. When a character first joins my game, the player picks out their spot on the chart - their starting alignment. Through the game, if any deeds leap out at me as being notably aligned, particularly if in a manner not adhering to their nominated alignment, I'll nudge their alignment over. The amount of nudging is pretty much entirely arbitrary, based on personal perceptions. As a base, though, I'd say only truly extreme deeds should result in instant alignment change, and even then a trip through Neutral should probably be made first.
For the most part, leaving out such extreme actions, it should probably just be a little bit at a time. If you get a whole lot of little deeds, then maybe you might decide that a pattern of behaviour has developed, and give them a larger nudge on that basis.

As a last note on my system, I sort of make alignments "sticky". By which I mean... how to explain it... Say the alignment chart has "Supergood" at +10, and Truly Neutral at 0, and the Neutral/Good line starting at +5. A Good character who is falling will sort of be given the benefit of the doubt, and will be allowed to stay Good - albeit very flawed and at risk of falling - until, say, +3. On the other hand, a Neutral character who is being unusually altruistic will yet likely remain Neutral until hitting, say, +7, because maybe it's just a phase or they have certain ends in mind, or whatever.

But basically: there is no set "number of acts" it takes to change an alignment. Leaving aside my chart system, what it really boils down to this: alignment is a tool for describing the personality, ideologies, philosophies, goals and deeds of a character. At what point does the nominated alignment fail to describe these in-practice qualities? That's the point at which the alignment should change.

olthar
2012-01-24, 08:31 PM
I'm not certain what the major issue is. Unless it is relevant to the class or feat's they have taken? After all the sheet is just a reflection of what that the character is, does it really matter if she turns out to be evil? Perhaps even use her degrading morals to your advantage and write it into the plot.

Generally when people are worried about this kind of thing it is because they have banned certain alignments from their game. This usually happens because someone in the party is playing a pally (i.e. don't want interparty fighting on day 1) or because the DM sees certain alignments as game killers (poorly played chaotic evil characters kill other pcs and then hide behind their alignment as "it's what he would do").

If you are banning because of pally or something, then maybe allow the pally's detect evil to note shades of evilness (character x isn't evil, but they seem to kind of pop up on your radar) which may self police. Of course, it could turn it into a negative situation if the pally plays equally stereotyped.

If it's the latter, then rather than ban an alignment ban the play style. Talk to the player out of game and say you don't want this to happen and if you see it happening they won't be asked to continue coming.

If it isn't because of a ban, then there are lots of fun ways to play it and make it interesting.

Need_A_Life
2012-01-24, 09:36 PM
I'll actually go against the general consensus and say this: Alignment changes should only occur with the players consent.

They might have reasons to do what they did, justifications for why what they did was in fact in the service of Good even if you, as the GM or another player, can't tell.
Example from OotS: Miko. Now, I'm no Miko fan, but even when she struck down Lord Shojo or destroyed the Gate she believed she was serving the forces of Good. Now, she was misguided and plain wrong, but that doesn't change that it was her honest belief. She would fall from Paladinhood (as that was explicitly divinely sponsored), but she'd retain Lawful Good alignment.

I'd call the player on it and suggest an alignment change (and as for the Paladin issue, I say that's an issue for the Paladin, not the GM)
Example from an old campaign: I was playing an Archivist, skirting the line between LN and LE (can't remember which one of those were actually on the sheet), and came into frequent conflict with the party Paladin who objected to my use of summoned undead, spells that inflicted unnecessary suffering or seemed creepy and/or underhanded. Each time I took time to (in-character) explain to him how A) I was using those spells to save both his and my life B) I was fighting with whatever tools I thought would best solve the problem and C) Unlike him, I didn't have divinely granted abilities and until that changed, I could hardly be expected to act like him.

TL;DR I'd never force alignment change on a player or surprise them like that (unless, it's like Xykons crown of "I detect as Evil," which could be entertaining). Also: I don't like Paladins.

Kane0
2012-01-24, 11:15 PM
My 2Cents: If they arent acting to their alignment, have them somehow punished by someone more true to that alignment, and recognizably so.

Deepbluediver
2012-01-24, 11:30 PM
Chaotic Nuetral does NOT mean "can get away with anything with no consequences".
Before the game starts, lay out a list of some of the most common actions you expect to see in the game, and where they each fall on the alignment spectrum. Include motivations if you need too (i.e. Evil for a good cause is slightly less evil than "evil for the lulz").

As the DM you are the worlds ultimate-de facto God, so I would say that it's within your parameters to legislate morality, so long as you create a system and stick with it (definitely no changing things on the fly).

If a player still plays chaotic evil without regard to the consequences, drop hints that if the rest of the party turns on them their won't be any plot armor around to protect them. If the whole party starts to drift into evil, tell them that they've begun acquiring an unsavory reputation; send another adventuring party (DMNPCs) after them. Start with just basic mercenarys, but if they get real evil assemble a team of LG crusaders (paladine, clerics, Goodly warriors and wizards, etc) and have an ultimate showdown. Even if your intended campaign gets a little derailed I still think people would have a pretty good time.
IMO, if people can't accept the ensuing retribution for playing "evil" characters than they shouldn't be playing as such.


That being said, I ran with a DM once who had a house rule: For every member of the party whose aligntment started with "chaotic" and didn't end in "good" there was a 25% chance every session a dragon would show up and devour you. :smallbiggrin:

tribble
2012-01-24, 11:33 PM
honestly, I would divide evil actions into two categories: Heinous and seductive.

Heinous acts are blatantly evil. Miko vs. Shojo comes to mind readily as an example.

Seductive acts are those minor little things. Those don't warrant alignment change unless they become habitual/systematic.

DonDuckie
2012-01-25, 10:25 AM
First: casting spells in it self should never change your alignment.

Reasoning - some are of the opinion:
"Animate Dead is an [Evil] spell and casting it makes you evil."
But then it should follow:
"Protection from Evil is a [Good] spell and casting it makes you good."
and most GMs would never allow that. But in an alignment system such as this, Good and Evil work pretty much the same way. Real life morality does not apply, as it is subjective.

Second: more generally about alignments and the changing thereof.
I'm for it, doing evil moves you towards evil alignment, and doing good moves you towards good alignment.
It is only fair to warn a player if his/her alignment is in danger of changing, and definately do it if it does change - don't be a jerk to make a point. And players should be primarily in charge of their own characters.

And very imoprtant: there is a spell that changes your alignment. so it's not a big deal... so if you force a change of alignment on a player, don't complain if the player wants to go off-script to change it back.

Now on to CN, if you run around murdering local forest bandits far beyond what can be claimed to be self defense, it is(arguably) an evil act, but saving future travelers and nearby villages from said bandits is(again arguably) good. So I say it's neutral. As to Chaotic - it just implies free-spirited, and with no drive to follow external laws or keep ones promisses. It also covers erratic personalities.

Acting evil(threatening, browbeating, killing) while doing good(the quests/campaign) IS neutral. In an alignment system such as this, Good and Evil deeds cancel eachother out.

Tiki Snakes
2012-01-25, 11:25 AM
Just make a note for yourself and have the world act accordingly. Unless there are mechanical alignment concerns involved, it really doesn't matter what the sheet says. If the character is known for showing no mercy, killing innocents, etc etc, then the world will simply react accordingly whether or not they can justify their actions or even performed those acts in the first place.

Unless you have all specifically agreed at the start of the campaign that there shall be No Evil Characters under any circumstances, it's not a major issue in most senses. You certainly shouldn't set out to 'punish' the player for how their character is acting, (say by having people who embody the alignment turn up to outshine them, or having paladin's descend from on high to kick their ass), but neither should you feel any compulsion to protect the character from the logical reprocussions of their actions Such as police involvement, widespread revulsion by normal people or even Paladins (of the Temple she burned down) descending from on High to kick her ass.
Hopefully that distinction makes sense. :smallsmile:

Of course, if her behaviour is affecting peoples enjoyment of the game, it might be worth discussing things more openly or even laying down some ground-rules, but thats really got nothing to do with Alignment and the two issues shouldn't be confused.

Tyndmyr
2012-01-25, 12:21 PM
So I've been wondering about this, since I'm starting a campaign with a few of my friends and I suspect at least one of them (one in particular, she's Chaotic Neutral, and I'm pretty sure she's going to play it as the kind of CN that's actually CE) is going to not follow their alignment all that well. So I have a few etiquette questions on this:

-Is it suggested to warn the player that their alignment is going to change? It seems fair, but on the other hand, having to actually say "Just to let you know, if you don't stop killing babies for sport, you're going to become evil" seems a bit ridiculous.

-How many evil acts does it take, in your guys' opinion, to move someone from neutral to evil or good to neutral? Obviously one or two extremely evil acts would do it, but what about more minor ones, like casting animate dead, or stealing, or some of other "kind of evil" things?

Say "Just so you know, that's an evil act" whenever appropriate. Change alignment when they have clearly demonstrated that their persona adheres better to the new alignment than their own, either through a coupla dramatic actions or many smaller ones.

tigerusthegreat
2012-01-25, 02:18 PM
Hard power: use alignment changes or rules to show that the player is cn in name only, but ce in all other effects.

Soft power: use reputation to hurt the player and get them to either go full ce or stay and act cn. Basically neutral aligned people stip trusting the character but evil aligned don't trust them either. If they decide to become fully ce then the evil side of things comes forward and the evil aligned accept them as one of their own.

Or you could just have alignment effecting spells do whatever is worst for the player. Smite evil effects them as an evil character. An evil aligned spell effects them as if they were neutral. Or you could have their god be mad at them.

prufock
2012-01-25, 05:28 PM
Required reading. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/description.htm#alignment)

Is the character debasing and destroying innocent life for fun or profit?
Is the character killing for sport? Is the character allied to an evil master or deity?

Both the act and the motive are important. Judge accordingly.

EDIT: Usually when I begin a campaign I set the restriction: no evil characters. Unless it's an evil campaign, of course. Might be something to keep in mind for the future.

hamishspence
2012-01-26, 12:32 PM
Is the character debasing and destroying innocent life for fun or profit?
Is the character killing for sport? Is the character allied to an evil master or deity?

I've discussed this before in earlier threads, disputing the "harming innocents is a requirement" principle.

Vigilante characters who never harm the innocent (and might even risk themselves to protect them) but who take "punish the guilty" to sadistic extremes, might arguably be enough of a "evildoer" to cross the line.

Roderick_BR
2012-01-26, 01:04 PM
Just tell them they are acting too differently from what they have on paper, so they'll change alignment. Simple. Alignment are supposed to reflect what the characters are. If you play the good guy that fights evil and helps innocents, you are good. If you act only when needed (i.e., "greater good", or when EVERYONE's lifes are at stake, or only when you are personally endangered), you are neutral. If you harms others trying to protect yourself as a first option and/or like to kill people "for fun", you are evil. Law/Chaos is a bit complex, since they may mean several other things, but the principle is the same.

As for "how much", you'll have to play it by ear. One deed here or there once in a while won't suddenly change your alignment (though it can remove powers in some classes), but doing it a lot will indicate a possible alignment shift.

For example, a character like Roy, bent on conquering evil and help people, is LG. If at some time he starts to not bother with helping people, turn down important quests because it's "too dangerous/boring" or start demanding payment too much, he may drop to neutral. When he start going "I got a new flaming burst sword. I'll test it in the first commoner that appear in my front", then he may drop to evil. And so on.

A friend once played a LE char. He had a sense of duty with his group, but nothing more than that. He would only fight "evil" to not be left behind by his group, and/or acquire good loot. Once he noticed he was being "too heroic" (they were hailed as heroes in a city), he said he needed to practice more his mean streak, being more brutal against enemies, because his character didn't want to lose his "bad boy" fame, and be called a "good two shoes" like his companions. To further his character concept, he accepted the "hero" title because he liked being praised, so he in it mostly for the benefits. He managed to keep an "evil" character interesting, without abandoning the alignment rules (though he was pushing them a bit)

Alex Star
2012-01-26, 01:35 PM
I like to drop subtle hints to my players when they start to go against alignment.

It starts with your perception of what alignment is, and as far as my players know it's exactly what's written in the book. Good is Good, Evil is Evil, blah blah blah blah. First I start out with a scale.

LG - NG - CG - LN - TN - CN - LE - NE - CE

This is important because when I talk about "Steps" this is the "ladder" that I'm using.

However, the fact is that every alignment starts off as CENTER. Lets just say that I have a player who is Neutral Good. For his character Neutral Good is "CENTER", when he interacts with NPCs that are Neutral Good he sees them in the most positive light available. When he sees Alignments within one step of his he sees them as like-minded, two steps is friendly, three steps is neutral, four or more steps and there exists a serious rift in how these people think. This is not due to how the player thinks, this is due to my portrayal of the NPC's around him.

I have NPC's who are Chaotic Good act in such a way as to be accepting of his views but perhaps a bit more "gung ho". NPC's who are Lawful Good act so that they appear to be slightly more "uptight". Because this is how his character views their actions.

Now lets say he starts to drift to one side or the other. As he makes more and more decisions that are closer to the Chaotic or Lawful side of things his perceptions of the NPC's around him change. If he's moving towards Chaos I'll make the Chaotic characters seem more interested in justice, and doing whats right, and self-sacrificing, likewise I'll have Lawful characters appear more interested in legalities and procedures. And suddenly in either case Neutral Good characters will take on a more "wishy-washy" tone, being very non-commital.

In this way the characters perception of the world around him and what different alignments mean changes. Suddenly "Chaotic Good" becomes the new "Center", and Lawful Good while friendly is certainly not operating anywhere near the same level as he once thought they did.

In this method alignment becomes a very slippery slope, once you start changing how you view the world around you the more you begin to see it in a different light.

prufock
2012-01-26, 04:40 PM
I've discussed this before in earlier threads, disputing the "harming innocents is a requirement" principle.

Vigilante characters who never harm the innocent (and might even risk themselves to protect them) but who take "punish the guilty" to sadistic extremes, might arguably be enough of a "evildoer" to cross the line.

I agree with you; my meaning wasn't that harming innocents was a requirement, but an indicator of an evil alignment, as per the SRD text.

IE, if you are evil you do not necessarily harm innocents for fun or profit. However, if you harm innocents for fun or profit, you are evil.

kyoryu
2012-01-26, 05:02 PM
I'll actually go against the general consensus and say this: Alignment changes should only occur with the players consent.


Disagree. If a character that is "Lawful Good" goes around murdering innocents, they're not actually Lawful Good, and their alignment should reflect that.

That's an extreme case, but the principle holds. Now, in general, I'd say two things should be true about alignment changes:

1) Except in extreme cases, it should not be the result of a single action.
2) The player should be given information that if they continue these types of actions, their alignment will change. A general definition of what the criteria the DM will use to judge this is also useful.

Templarkommando
2012-01-26, 07:51 PM
I've had this problem before. As far as warnings, I think the best response to clearly evil actions from a non-evil character is the classic *DM raises eyebrow* asks "What alignment are you again?" and "Are you sure?"

Actually following through on an alignment change is a little more difficult (but this may be because I've never had to follow through on a change just yet). My thinking is that a consistent system is needed to make sure that the PC can't realistically say "You're not treating me fairly." What I want to do is develop a system of infractions. You have minor infractions, moderate infractions, and major infractions. Basically you make a decision dependent on the severity of the infraction. Some of these decisions are going to be relative to your group, but minor infractions are going to be things like petty theft, unprovoked assault, cheating at cards etc. Moderate infractions would include: theft of a very valuable item, beating someone to within an inch of their life for no reason, identity theft, fraud, etc. Major infractions: Murder, crimes of the sort the merit life sentences or death penalties in the real world and so on.

Basically, you have a given number of chances with a minor or moderate infraction (maybe as many as 5 minor infractions, or 2 moderate infractions). After committing a major infraction, you've crossed the line into alignment-changeville. Basically what you're looking for is a pattern that establishes a habit of committing evil acts (or if you're looking at an alignment change to something other than evil, then whatever other alignment better fits).

Something else to take into consideration would be not letting your players know how many infractions they've committed until you go ahead and follow through on the alignment change. What I'm thinking here is that you don't want players thinking "Oh, well I still have 3 minor infractions left so I can go ahead and keep committing evil acts until I've used those up."

kyoryu
2012-01-26, 07:55 PM
Basically, you have a given number of chances with a minor or moderate infraction (maybe as many as 5 minor infractions, or 2 moderate infractions). After committing a major infraction, you've crossed the line into alignment-changeville. Basically what you're looking for is a pattern that establishes a habit of committing evil acts (or if you're looking at an alignment change to something other than evil, then whatever other alignment better fits).

In general I agree, though I do think how the character deals with his infraction, and what the circumstances are need to play into it as well.

A Good individual may steal bread to feed his children, but he'd do so as a last resort, feel terrible about it, and make up for it when possible.

An Evil character may steal bread because he was hungry, even though he had enough money, and not think anything of it.

Templarkommando
2012-01-26, 08:13 PM
In general I agree, though I do think how the character deals with his infraction, and what the circumstances are need to play into it as well.

A Good individual may steal bread to feed his children, but he'd do so as a last resort, feel terrible about it, and make up for it when possible.

An Evil character may steal bread because he was hungry, even though he had enough money, and not think anything of it.

I think this is a fair point, and to a large degree it depends on how each individual DM wants to deal with it. There needs to be some room for the context of an action, though I'm not entirely sure how I would go about accounting for it.

Part of it is going to be trusting your PCs. If a PC commits an action that is generally considered evil (let's say they kill someone), you then have to ask them why their character did that. A dishonest PC might then try to justify their actions claiming some sort of delusion. "My character thought that the guy he killed was the BBEG/ one of the BBEG's lackeys," is the sort of excuse that - if true - would change the context of an action from an undoubtedly evil act to an act of an ambiguous nature, but if it's a lie then you have the difficulty of sorting out whether the character is in fact deluded or not. Actually you have to sort out the claim whether or not it's true I guess... so that makes things a bit more complicated.

Morithias
2012-01-26, 09:19 PM
First: casting spells in it self should never change your alignment.

I'm pretty sure it's been stated that casting 9 evil spells is enough to be considered evil.

9 animate dead spells while you're a lawful person = Baator. It's right there on page 30.

Also for everyone talking about "minor" "moderate" and so on. Here is the full list.

Using an evil spell: 1 corruption point
Humiliating an underling: 1
Engaging in intimidating behavior: 1
Stealing from the needy: 2
Desecrating a good church or temple: 2
Betraying a friend or ally for personal gain: 2
Causing Gratuitious injury to a creature: 3
Perverting Justice for personal gain: 3
Inflicting cruel or painful torture: 4
Inflicting excruciating torture: 5
Murder: 5
Inflicting Sadistic torture: 6
Cold blooded murder: 6
Murder for pleasure: 7
Inflicting indescribable torture: 7

Seriously you don't even need to keep track of these things too often. If your player is doing this stuff, when he dies just send him to the Abyss or Baator. When they raise him from the dead, he'll see the light and change his ways.

Morithias
2012-01-26, 09:20 PM
Edit: accident double post.

Serpentine
2012-01-27, 10:35 AM
First I start out with a scale.

LG - NG - CG - LN - TN - CN - LE - NE - CE

This is important because when I talk about "Steps" this is the "ladder" that I'm using.Ugh. I hate this idea, that Chaos is "less Good" than Law :yuk:

Morithias
2012-01-27, 10:39 AM
Ugh. I hate this idea, that Chaos is "less Good" than Law :yuk:

While on the "good alignments" one can make arguments about lawful good versus Chaotic good, but when it comes to neutral and evil I have to disagree. What would you rather have, a person who does everything by the book and is basically just boring unless you happen to break the rules (LN) or a person who might randomly decide to stab you in the back of the head and loot you "for the lulz" (CN).

As for LE versus CE. I'd take a devil as a "friend" over a demon any day. True the devil will always has his own agenda, but as with the LN versus CN, he's not going to just randomly decide to kill you for no reason. Lawful people don't work that way.

Jagu
2012-01-27, 10:47 AM
General rule of thumb:
A "Good" character should have at least 3 good acts for every evil act.
A Neutral character can vary from 2:1, 1:1, 1:2
Evil characters should have 3 evil acts for each good act.

Tally them roughly each week. If there was no opportunity to act within alignment, (Such as when players are using downtime to research spells or craft items) disregard that week.

Each time you tally the acts, clear the tally. Alignment drifts over time. Just because you saved an orphanage and donated money to the poor last week does not excuse you from killing an innocent, unarmed man and taking all his things.

Alex Star
2012-01-27, 11:03 AM
Ugh. I hate this idea, that Chaos is "less Good" than Law :yuk:

As much as I hate to put it bluntly, you're reading the alignment scale wrong.

It has to do with personality compatability, that's all an alignment scale means, not that LG is more good that CG, simply that LG identifies with fewer people than CG does.

A Lawful Good character by the book really only wants to associate with LG or NG characters, he'll work with CG, and perhaps Deal with LN, but beyond that he just doesn't want anything to do with you.

a Chaotic Good character on the other hand will count NG and LN characters as those wo he identifies with, NG characters are simply a bit more restrained, and LN characters are just more organized, he'll work just fine with LG and TN alignments, and he'll probably deal with someone who's CN, but the moment you step into the evil alignments (4 steps by my system) he's going to have problems.

The buffer of Neutrality that exists between Good and Evil acts to separate those alignments by the 4 steps necessary to make them "incompatable"

In this way Good is Good and Evil is Evil, and characters who share that trait will always see eachother favorably, with neutral characters being able to see both as acceptable, but often being inclined towards one or the other.

Serpentine
2012-01-27, 11:13 AM
While on the "good alignments" one can make arguments about lawful good versus Chaotic good, but when it comes to neutral and evil I have to disagree. What would you rather have, a person who does everything by the book and is basically just boring unless you happen to break the rules (LN) or a person who might randomly decide to stab you in the back of the head and loot you "for the lulz" (CN).

As for LE versus CE. I'd take a devil as a "friend" over a demon any day. True the devil will always has his own agenda, but as with the LN versus CN, he's not going to just randomly decide to kill you for no reason. Lawful people don't work that way.I'd rather be with someone who constantly campaigns for freedom and self-expression than a sanctimonious holier-than-thou crusader who will champion injustice and feel justified in doing so.
Just because you'd find it "easier" to deal with a devil, doesn't mean they're any less Evil than a demon.
Law/Chaos and Good/Evil are - or should be, dammit D&D - completely independent categories. A character/creature's relative "lawfulness" has absolutely no influence on their "goodness" - merely, at most, the manner of its expression.
As much as I hate to put it bluntly, you're reading the alignment scale wrong.

It has to do with personality compatability, that's all an alignment scale means, not that LG is more good that CG, simply that LG identifies with fewer people than CG does.

A Lawful Good character by the book really only wants to associate with LG or NG characters, he'll work with CG, and perhaps Deal with LN, but beyond that he just doesn't want anything to do with you.

a Chaotic Good character on the other hand will count NG and LN characters as those wo he identifies with, NG characters are simply a bit more restrained, and LN characters are just more organized, he'll work just fine with LG and TN alignments, and he'll probably deal with someone who's CN, but the moment you step into the evil alignments (4 steps by my system) he's going to have problems.

The buffer of Neutrality that exists between Good and Evil acts to separate those alignments by the 4 steps necessary to make them "incompatable"

In this way Good is Good and Evil is Evil, and characters who share that trait will always see eachother favorably, with neutral characters being able to see both as acceptable, but often being inclined towards one or the other.Ah, alright then. I guess that makes sense (although I wouldn't consider it necessarily so).

Morithias
2012-01-27, 11:18 AM
Well the most ideal "good" would be some kind of super exalted society that doesn't need laws to avoid things like theft and murder...but here's the thing.

Even though that sounds chaotic, if everyone has clear value and order even though they don't have official laws one can kinda make argument that they're lawful or at least neutral ethically.

I mean it's not like you're automatically chaotic just cause you live in the lawless wild. Fist of the Forest anyone?

Serpentine
2012-01-27, 11:20 AM
Sounds like Neutral Good, to me - and if any alignment had to be "goodest" (as far as I'm concerned, that's defeating the purpose of the whole thing), that's the one I'd pick.

Alex Star
2012-01-27, 11:41 AM
Sounds like Neutral Good, to me - and if any alignment had to be "goodest" (as far as I'm concerned, that's defeating the purpose of the whole thing), that's the one I'd pick.

Ahh how the whole matters of OPINION come out.

Couldn't the argument be made that Neutral Good is the reason that Lawful Good exists?

I mean Chaotic good is obvious. Do whatever is best immediately using whatever the most effective means are at your disposal to do it. If the bad guy is standing in front of you and he's a danger to society and he surrenders you should just kill him to prevent future problems.

That's obviously a Chaotic approach.. but what about a Neutral Good one...

Use whatever means seems appropriate for the situation to deal with whichever situation comes your way. If a bad guy is surrendering and he seems "too" dangerous to let live perhaps you should kill him, but if he's not "too" dangerous you could probably just capture him and throw him in jail.

That's pretty frickin' arbitrary if you ask me, why is your judgement so perfect Mr. Neutral Good!?!?!? That you get to decide how each and every person gets treated on the spot. Lawful Good on the other hand.

Develop a system that treats each person fairly, and establish a benchmark to determine how specific situations should be handled. If a bad guy is surrendering, then follow a uniform code that makes sure you approach each situation consistently. In this way we can try to make sure no one gets treated unfairly, and the judgement of each person is not left up to the individual.

Mr Lawful Good seems to be trying to take the arbitrary nature of the Neutral God approach and at least make the decision process a bit more streamlined.


So are you still so sure that Neutral Good is the BEST? It seems to me that LG and CG at least have a plan for how they want to do things, may not always be the best plan. But it could be argued that it's better than the NG method of "winging it"

Serpentine
2012-01-27, 12:43 PM
No, I'm not. In fact, note the part where I said that I wouldn't pick one to be "goodest" (not "best", "most Good").
More to the point, the descriptions you gave are only a few very specific examples of how to play those characters - as, moreover, are the ones I gave earlier, and those to which I was responding. There are plenty of others I could give that would completely oppose your claim. But that won't help, because I'm not arguing for that, either.

kyoryu
2012-01-27, 02:15 PM
I think this is a fair point, and to a large degree it depends on how each individual DM wants to deal with it. There needs to be some room for the context of an action, though I'm not entirely sure how I would go about accounting for it.

Part of it is going to be trusting your PCs. If a PC commits an action that is generally considered evil (let's say they kill someone), you then have to ask them why their character did that. A dishonest PC might then try to justify their actions claiming some sort of delusion. "My character thought that the guy he killed was the BBEG/ one of the BBEG's lackeys," is the sort of excuse that - if true - would change the context of an action from an undoubtedly evil act to an act of an ambiguous nature, but if it's a lie then you have the difficulty of sorting out whether the character is in fact deluded or not. Actually you have to sort out the claim whether or not it's true I guess... so that makes things a bit more complicated.

Even so - as a DM, I'd have to ask what proof he had of this, and whether the character was willing to kill someone on the mere suspicion that they were a BBEG lackey.

And the reaction of the character when confronted with the truth is a key part, as well. If the character's response is "oh, well", then that's a slide towards evil. If the character shows remorse and attempts recompense in some way (giving money to the dead NPC's family, donating money/items to charity to make things better in that area, etc.) then I'd be more willing to accept it.


Ahh how the whole matters of OPINION come out.

Couldn't the argument be made that Neutral Good is the reason that Lawful Good exists?

I mean Chaotic good is obvious. Do whatever is best immediately using whatever the most effective means are at your disposal to do it. If the bad guy is standing in front of you and he's a danger to society and he surrenders you should just kill him to prevent future problems.

I'd argue that a Good character would be hesitant to kill a surrendered foe, unless put in a situation where it is the only real choice.

A Chaotic Good person would, to me, be more likely to figure out why the foe was doing "the bad thing" and find a way to show the person a better path, regardless of whether or not, "by the law" the person should be brought in for trial, executed, whatever.

So in that way we'd combine Good (concern for others, even enemies) with Chaotic (lack of concern for law/rules).


Use whatever means seems appropriate for the situation to deal with whichever situation comes your way. If a bad guy is surrendering and he seems "too" dangerous to let live perhaps you should kill him, but if he's not "too" dangerous you could probably just capture him and throw him in jail.

That seems more Chaotic Good than your CG example. The Chaotic person is putting his judgement over a set of rules - which is pretty much the definition of Chaotic.

To me, a Neutral Good person may want some rules/guidelines in place for how to deal with situations, but sufficient flexibility to allow the individual some level of leeway.


Develop a system that treats each person fairly, and establish a benchmark to determine how specific situations should be handled. If a bad guy is surrendering, then follow a uniform code that makes sure you approach each situation consistently. In this way we can try to make sure no one gets treated unfairly, and the judgement of each person is not left up to the individual.

This seems like a pretty good definition of Lawful Good - the problem becomes that any set of rules that tries to handle all scenarios must, by definition, be generic and cannot well handle the specific issues of any given scenario. The Lawful Good person would acknowledge this, and accept it, arguing that the fairness of the laws, and the potential ability to change them, is better overall than the judgement errors that would result from the NG, or God forbid, the CG approach.

Similarly, the CG person would argue that the person in the situation has the most information available on what to do, and should have the freedom to do the "right" thing, and that giving people the power to react to each situation as it happens results in greater overall Good than the Lawful Good approach, where some injustice will occur due to rules being inappropriate to the situation.

The NG approach tries to split the middle by having guidelines to ensure a general overall set of results, while still giving some freedom to the person making the decision. The CG approach just varies too wildly for them, and they see the danger of the overall strictness of the LG person.

I'd argue that none of them are "more Good" than the other - they just make different tradeoffs in how to achieve the most Good.

NichG
2012-01-27, 02:56 PM
As a DM, alignment just isn't that important. I really wouldn't want to spend any effort whatsoever in policing a player's alignment. It's unnecessary to use alignment as an excuse to have the world react to a PC's actions, I mean rationally, why should the world react more strongly to evil acts by someone who has 'N' on his sheet rather than 'E'? It's not like people have any way of telling that there's an 'N' on the sheet.

Good, Neutral, or Evil, if you go and murder (an anomalously large for the setting) bunch of people in the streets guess what, the local guard says 'we have a serial killer on the loose, drop everything and go after him'. Its not a matter of alignment, its a matter of other people reacting rationally to protect themselves. The same way that even if you're Good and every action has a justification as such, if you're doing something that to the rest of the world looks like the actions of an evil cultist trying to end all things, you're going to get the heroes sent after you. It doesn't matter if at the last second you intend to betray the dark god and cast him into the abyss of his own making - he doesn't know that and neither do the paladins.

But similarly, you as a 'good' character go and kill your family and bury them in the woods and blame it on a recent goblin raid, you're going to be evil but the world will probably believe the story and move on.

As a DM I only tend to ever bother with alignment in any serious way if either there are spell effects that really need to know about it to work (like Blasphemy) or if there are paragon beings of the alignment involved. Though I have to admit, there was a fun moment in one campaign where a PC who had 'N' written down but basically acted evil got hit by a Blasphemy, and I gave him the offer "Totally as an OOC comment, your character has been acting evil for the last 8 games. If you want to own up to that and convert right now, this spell won't touch a hair on your head." - he thought about it for five minutes or so, then decided to take the hit from the Blasphemy.

Terracotta
2012-01-27, 06:36 PM
To bring us back to the original question a little more, what matters most is how alignment will actually affect your campaign and how you perceive it.

Should you warn them? Yes, but do it in character if you can. Or let the other players do it. If they're roleplaying at all, they'll agree or disagree implicitly or explicitly (and in and out of character.) My gaming group also has a CN(CE) player, and the DM never has to say a word about this sort of thing because everyone else calls them out on it. If the other players aren't saying anything, then have NPCs comment.

For the "Number of actions" I think it's safe to say that, sometimes, good people do bad things and bad people do good things, but that doesn't necessarily change their overall identity. The important things here are intent and consistency. Take a good character with an atrocious wisdom score who continually commits evil acts without meaning to and is sorry afterwards. While you might impose some in-game penalties, the character's alignment doesn't have to change.

Now, from what you've described, you've got someone who has their alignment being called into question out of character, not in the game. If they say CN but play CE, simply give them a warning and talk to them about it. It might be a fun plot hook to have someone who doesn't think they're evil but acts like it while oblivious. Or, take a page out of the Giant's book. ( :belkar: ) There's nothing that says that a CE character can't be in the same party as an LG one, so the whole question might not matter all that much anyway.

SaintRidley
2012-01-28, 11:16 PM
PCs do not act their alignment. They align to their actions.




They might have reasons to do what they did, justifications for why what they did was in fact in the service of Good even if you, as the GM or another player, can't tell.
Example from OotS: Miko. Now, I'm no Miko fan, but even when she struck down Lord Shojo or destroyed the Gate she believed she was serving the forces of Good. Now, she was misguided and plain wrong, but that doesn't change that it was her honest belief. She would fall from Paladinhood (as that was explicitly divinely sponsored), but she'd retain Lawful Good alignment.


Just because you believe yourself to be Lawful Good does not make you Lawful Good.

Seharvepernfan
2012-01-29, 04:46 AM
So I've been wondering about this, since I'm starting a campaign with a few of my friends and I suspect at least one of them (one in particular, she's Chaotic Neutral, and I'm pretty sure she's going to play it as the kind of CN that's actually CE) is going to not follow their alignment all that well. So I have a few etiquette questions on this:

-Is it suggested to warn the player that their alignment is going to change? It seems fair, but on the other hand, having to actually say "Just to let you know, if you don't stop killing babies for sport, you're going to become evil" seems a bit ridiculous.

-How many evil acts does it take, in your guys' opinion, to move someone from neutral to evil or good to neutral? Obviously one or two extremely evil acts would do it, but what about more minor ones, like casting animate dead, or stealing, or some of other "kind of evil" things?

I tell my players that they are approaching an alignment change, and then change it myself if they keep going.

For the second, make a tally. How many good/neutral/evil acts do they commit, then weigh the balance. If they make more of one than the others, thats the alignment they become.

hamishspence
2012-01-29, 06:27 AM
I'm pretty sure it's been stated that casting 9 evil spells is enough to be considered evil.

9 animate dead spells while you're a lawful person = Baator. It's right there on page 30.

Note that afterlife destination doesn't necessarily equate to alignment in this case. The DMG helpfully points out that a exceptionally vile villain can have a major change of heart and change alignment from Evil to Neutral or even Good.

But this doesn't affect their corruption rating- to do that, they have to atone.

The previously mentioned Dread Necromancer seems to specialize in casting evil (undead-related) spells- but can still maintain a Neutral alignment (through good deeds and good intentions). It's possible that a lot of LN Dread Necromancers, having accumulated Corruption points, are doomed to Baator on death, despite their LN alignment. Though if they are "genuinely repentant" of their evil acts on death, they might get transformed into Hellbred instead, giving them a second chance.

DonDuckie
2012-01-29, 07:36 AM
I tell my players that they are approaching an alignment change, and then change it myself if they keep going.

For the second, make a tally. How many good/neutral/evil acts do they commit, then weigh the balance. If they make more of one than the others, thats the alignment they become.

That makes Neutral(the most common alignment) almost impossible. Or do you evaluate the difference? Relative to number of deeds? Or just a simple static threshold? Or do you count Neutral deeds too?

Seharvepernfan
2012-01-29, 05:22 PM
That makes Neutral(the most common alignment) almost impossible. Or do you evaluate the difference? Relative to number of deeds? Or just a simple static threshold? Or do you count Neutral deeds too?

There are good acts, neutral acts, and evil acts. If they are tied at the same number, or if neutral pulls ahead, then they are neutral. However, if they were, say, good 6, neutral 5, evil 5, then they are still neutral, so I would eyeball it if it were ever that close.

If they were good 9, neutral 7, evil 3, then I would say they are "good", but very close to being neutral. If they were good 8, neutral 8, and evil 2, they would be neutral. See?

phy
2012-01-29, 09:43 PM
The only time PCs not acting their alignment mattered was when it made it less fun for the other players. There are only two remedies I know for someone ruining the fun for other people. Act right or go away.

Lord.Sorasen
2012-01-30, 01:45 AM
PCs do not act their alignment. They align to their actions.

I've always had a problem with this, in a way. This idea works if you're a wizard or something, because your spell-list can change to modify your alignment and the new way you work.

But by RAW, a barbarian who becomes lawful loses the ability to rage. Druids must be neutral in some component or lose their everything. Paladins have it the worst, where any alignment shift at all means no more powers.

Protection from X spells only matter to certain alignments, and smite evil/good only work on certain alignments. The list goes on.

What I mean is that D&D is going to encourage you to play to your alignment. If you don't at least keep "stay neutral" in your mind, the chance that the DM will judge you as lawful good rather than neutral good and take away your druid powers is a very likely possibility. There are DM ways to go around this issue but they tend to take a lot of work.

Now, to answer the OP's question, I'd talk to your player about what they think chaotic neutral means. If they disagree with you, and honestly think that you don't have to be evil to rape and kill people, I'd honestly just let them play their evil character with the neutral tag, and just sort of shift things around that.

SaintRidley
2012-01-30, 02:28 AM
I've always had a problem with this, in a way. This idea works if you're a wizard or something, because your spell-list can change to modify your alignment and the new way you work.

But by RAW, a barbarian who becomes lawful loses the ability to rage. Druids must be neutral in some component or lose their everything. Paladins have it the worst, where any alignment shift at all means no more powers.

Protection from X spells only matter to certain alignments, and smite evil/good only work on certain alignments. The list goes on.

What I mean is that D&D is going to encourage you to play to your alignment. If you don't at least keep "stay neutral" in your mind, the chance that the DM will judge you as lawful good rather than neutral good and take away your druid powers is a very likely possibility. There are DM ways to go around this issue but they tend to take a lot of work.


Seems you take issue with some of the aspects of the system that I do: namely alignment requirements on classes. Alignment should be descriptive, not restrictive and tying it to character class prevents it from being descriptive.



Now, to answer the OP's question, I'd talk to your player about what they think chaotic neutral means. If they disagree with you, and honestly think that you don't have to be evil to rape and kill people, I'd honestly just let them play their evil character with the neutral tag, and just sort of shift things around that.

The OP's question doesn't seem to be terribly mechanical in nature - it's rare we see a CN -> CE shift that has any mechanical consequences due to the limited number of restrictive classes. The consequences are thus all about character attitude and alignment matching the actions. As I said, PCs align to their actions.

I would not, if we take your bolded example, simply let them play evil and call it neutral. Rape does not get to be somehow not evil. The player can play evil and call it evil. Or the player can walk away from the table and not play until they learn to play a character who isn't a rapist.

Alignment is a way to paint a character's moral outlook in (very) broad strokes. The picture is made clearer and more detailed by the character's actions. Just because Chaotic Neutral is put down at creation or a character (and player) thinks the character is Lawful Good does not make it so.

Alignment is here to give us a basic guideline on how a character might act. If a player wants a LG character, the player will try to make the character act LG. Not simply put LG on the sheet and then go do whatever strikes their fancy and say "But I'm Lawful Good, see". Even if DM and player don't agree precisely on what constitutes LG behavior, there should be a reasonable amount of wiggle room based on what common features player and DM might have. If player and DM can't agree on the moral standing of rape on the Good-Evil axis, one of them probably should not be allowed to discuss alignment.


So yeah. I hate alignment having a mechanical effect on what a character might be in terms of class. There are very few cases where I support it being an option, really only in the case of the Paladin and even then I'm a lot more lenient than the rules normally allow. My approach to the Paladin, which is a really cool archetype and should not be denied simply because it's so based around alignment is this:

"Here are 9 different *Paladin classes - based on your actions and your character's alignment, you'll have the class features that correspond. If your *Paladin is a Paladin for a specific god and you step too far away in alignment, you'll have to atone and clean up your act and work with diminished powers until then. Questions? Good. Come up with a basic code of conduct based on your character's moral framework and let me check it out and we'll see how it goes."

Otherwise Barbarians, Bards, Monks, Warlocks, Dread Necromancers? no alignment restrictions there. Prestige classes? 90% of alignment restrictions on those lifted.

A character should not be so penalized on alignment. However, a Player should not be able to say "My cannibal rapist with a thing for animated necrophilia is totally Lawful Good." Chaotic Evil, maybe Neutral Evil depending on how stuff goes down, but not anything else. Like I said, actions make the alignment.

Sorry if this seems ranty at all. I'm not trying to rant at you.

Heatwizard
2012-01-30, 02:30 AM
LG - NG - CG - LN - TN - CN - LE - NE - CE

The thing about this line is that in order to get it all into a one-dimensional figure, you've stuck Chaotic Good with Lawful Neutral and Chaotic Neutral with Lawful Evil. And Lawful Good/Evil both can't stand Lawful Neutrals? It seems like if you used ye olde tic-tac-toe grid in the same fashion, nothing would change except maybe it'd make a bit more sense.

Helldog
2012-01-30, 05:03 AM
There are good acts, neutral acts, and evil acts. If they are tied at the same number, or if neutral pulls ahead, then they are neutral. However, if they were, say, good 6, neutral 5, evil 5, then they are still neutral, so I would eyeball it if it were ever that close.

If they were good 9, neutral 7, evil 3, then I would say they are "good", but very close to being neutral. If they were good 8, neutral 8, and evil 2, they would be neutral. See?
I cast a spell that obliterates an entire city, with premeditation. Then I save a puppy from drowning, and then I give a gold coin to a beggar.
Evil acts = 1.
Good acts = 2. I'm Good?

Serpentine
2012-01-30, 02:25 PM
But by RAW, a barbarian who becomes lawful loses the ability to rage. Druids must be neutral in some component or lose their everything. Paladins have it the worst, where any alignment shift at all means no more powers.While I really don't like alignment restrictions on classes - it's easy as Hell for a player to convince me to remove it - I believe the intent, at least, is the opposite of this.
That is, a barbarian who loses touch with his deep, animalistic primal nature, who fails to maintain his wild nature and allows himself to be "tamed" and "civilised" loses contact with the ferocious beast inside, and can no longer rage.
The force of nature itself requires Druids to keep some perspective on things, to hold themselves apart from humanoid obsession with morality. A Druid who fails to keep this perspective, who falls into partisanship, loses touch with the natural forces that support them.
Annnnd I'm sure there's plenty of stuff on Paladins around the place.

Personally, I prefer that roleplaying opportunities like these are taken voluntarily, not under threat by the system itself, but I do think you're somewhat misrepresenting them.

hamishspence
2012-01-30, 03:57 PM
One way of thinking of it (at least, at the milder end of the scale) is that it isn't the character "not acting their alignment" it's that they're "atypical of their alignment"

An "atypical" character can still work- if both the DM and player are on the same page.

"atypical Evil"- the character has some of the basic evil traits, but goes dramatically away from it in others- the "altruistic, compassionate, self-sacrificing evildoer" being a possible example.

"atypical Neutral" could be the same, but a bit less evil- they don't "lack the commitment to make sacrifices to help strangers" but they're more ruthless than the average Good character.

"atypical Good" might be the narcissistic, self-centred do-gooder"- they're much more selfishly motivated than the typical Good character- risking themselves to help people, making sacrifices, and so on, but because they get a great deal of emotional gratification from doing so.

"atypical Chaotic"- maybe the person who seeks to maximise freedom and make the world less orderly- but is extremely disciplined and organized.

"atypical Lawful"- maybe scruffy, whimsical, creative and resentful of authority- yet a powerful force for Order in themselves?

Serpentine
2012-01-30, 04:18 PM
I dislike that idea, not necessarily because there's anything really wrong with it, but because I don't think there's any such thing as a "typical [alignment]". Maybe "classic" or "easy" or "common", but... well, this (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9225452&postcount=38) is what I came up for for True Neutral, and I have no doubt there's many more others could think of, and that's just one alignment. Talking about an "atypical alignment" just seems to be reinforcing the idea that there's one - well, two now - right way of playing an alignment.

hamishspence
2012-01-30, 04:41 PM
True. It's atypical only in the sense that it breaks, or severely bends, the general guidelines laid down in the PHB.

An evil character who "will not harm the innocent"
A neutral character who does not "lack the commitment to make personal sacrifices to help strangers"

and so on.

The number of times I've tried to argue that it's possible to have this kind of evil character, and been counterargued, does make me think that even if it's possible, it's unusual.

Cavelcade
2012-01-30, 06:03 PM
This was how I always interpreted the alignment system and I thought then that it really should be the actions that dictate alignment rather than the other way around.

Lawful: Someone who always takes the law as their starting point for whether or not they'll do something. Will almost always follow the law of the land.

Neutral: Someone who will consider why the law was made but will break it if they think it serves a purpose.

Chaotic: The law of the land is meaningless to them. This doesn't mean they don't take their own code very seriously - I don't know of any example of people who have literally no internal code who make sense as characters.


Good vs Evil is then described in the usual way of altruism, as I think that's a pretty good baseline.

So a lawful good person is one who will follow the law of the land in most cases but will try to do what's best for everyone while a Chaotic Neutral person will do whatever they can make their own lives and those they care about easier, but won't resort to murder most of the time.

Beyond that, well, I would agree most class alignment restrictions should be used as a guideline - a Barbarian could become lawful, I think, while still maintaining his ability to rage, he'd just have to justify it.

kyoryu
2012-01-30, 06:12 PM
This was how I always interpreted the alignment system and I thought then that it really should be the actions that dictate alignment rather than the other way around.

Agreed. And I mostly agree with your definitions.


Lawful: Someone who always takes the law as their starting point for whether or not they'll do something. Will almost always follow the law of the land.

I look at it more as a preference for order and structure. A lawful person will generally obey the law, because it is a system of order/structure, and they'll find value in imperfect laws, simply by nature of having a single structure for everyone to work in.


Neutral: Someone who will consider why the law was made but will break it if they think it serves a purpose.

Most people will follow the law if they don't have a strong reason not to! A compulsion to break the law isn't "Chaotic," it's a personality disorder. I'd say that a neutral person values both having structure in some areas, as well as allowing personal freedom in others.


Chaotic: The law of the land is meaningless to them. This doesn't mean they don't take their own code very seriously - I don't know of any example of people who have literally no internal code who make sense as characters.

Yep. The point htere is *their* code.


So a lawful good person is one who will follow the law of the land in most cases but will try to do what's best for everyone

This is one of those interesting bits. Because it can easily be interpreted into an "end justifies the means" mentality, where a "Lawful Good" person will happily kill 40% of the people to make the lives of the remaining 60% better. I don't find that very Lawful Good at all. Rather, a Lawful Good person will *self-sacrifice* for the good of others. Sacrificing others is not, frankly, very Good.


while a Chaotic Neutral person will do whatever they can make their own lives and those they care about easier, but won't resort to murder most of the time.

Probably won't resort to murder at all, as that's a pretty serious offense against others. Self-defense, sure. A neutral person will probably also feel some level of remorse for acts that are offenses against others (theft, etc.). They may rationalize it away, of course, but even that suggests a level of guilt. A truly evil person won't bother, they just don't care.

Cavelcade
2012-01-30, 07:00 PM
This is one of those interesting bits. Because it can easily be interpreted into an "end justifies the means" mentality, where a "Lawful Good" person will happily kill 40% of the people to make the lives of the remaining 60% better. I don't find that very Lawful Good at all. Rather, a Lawful Good person will *self-sacrifice* for the good of others. Sacrificing others is not, frankly, very Good.

I would absolutely agree on this, unfortunately, alignment is full of such subtleties and to be completely clear on what I consider each alignment to be and the justification for my interpretations would involve a huge amount of writing and frankly, I don't want to inflict wall-of-text on anyone here.

I think being willing to sacrifice others for some greater good would fall more under neutral on good/neutral/evil than good, though a good person won't stop another sacrificing themselves for the greater good either.



Probably won't resort to murder at all, as that's a pretty serious offense against others. Self-defense, sure. A neutral person will probably also feel some level of remorse for acts that are offenses against others (theft, etc.). They may rationalize it away, of course, but even that suggests a level of guilt. A truly evil person won't bother, they just don't care.

I would overall agree with this, too, again, just a lack of clarity. I still think there are circumstances where a Neutral person might resort to murder and rationalise it as being a form of pre-emptive self defence but that's somewhat beside the point.

kyoryu
2012-01-30, 09:05 PM
I would overall agree with this, too, again, just a lack of clarity. I still think there are circumstances where a Neutral person might resort to murder and rationalise it as being a form of pre-emptive self defence but that's somewhat beside the point.

True.

But I'd put that in the general category of "even a Good person will commit Evil acts in some situations."

The difference is in the response to being in that situation. A Good character will avoid the Evil act, and will feel remorse or a need to make amends afterwards. An Evil character will whistle a happy song.

I think the general idea of "Good people only commit Good acts" is the core of most alignment arguments, as the correlation then is "any act a Good person would do must therefore be a Good action." A Good person may steal bread from a rich noble to feed his starving children - but that doesn't mean it's a Good act.



I think being willing to sacrifice others for some greater good would fall more under neutral on good/neutral/evil than good

I'd put it firmly in evil land. A Good person would likely try to make the sacrifice himself, a Neutral person would probably either accept the other person's sacrifice, or even actively try to convince them to make it. Taking the choice from another person and sacrificing them is pretty much Evil.

Cavelcade
2012-01-31, 06:03 AM
I'd put it firmly in evil land. A Good person would likely try to make the sacrifice himself, a Neutral person would probably either accept the other person's sacrifice, or even actively try to convince them to make it. Taking the choice from another person and sacrificing them is pretty much Evil.

Well it depends on what you mean by sacrifice. Sacrificing someone to gain yourself more power is evil, whatever the actual end in mind. However, a general who sends one group of soldiers out as a feint or rearguard, knowing that they will probably die but that in doing so they will allow for a more complete victory is neutral.

Not to say a good person wouldn't do the same, like you said, just because a good person performs the deed doesn't make it good.

kyoryu
2012-01-31, 01:38 PM
Well it depends on what you mean by sacrifice. Sacrificing someone to gain yourself more power is evil, whatever the actual end in mind. However, a general who sends one group of soldiers out as a feint or rearguard, knowing that they will probably die but that in doing so they will allow for a more complete victory is neutral.

Not to say a good person wouldn't do the same, like you said, just because a good person performs the deed doesn't make it good.

Yeah, the "army" clause :D This one has come up before.

My view is that when you join a military (or, for that matter, board a ship), you willingly put yourself under their command, and so you pre-emptively give your consent to be sacrificed.

NichG
2012-01-31, 01:41 PM
Well it depends on what you mean by sacrifice. Sacrificing someone to gain yourself more power is evil, whatever the actual end in mind. However, a general who sends one group of soldiers out as a feint or rearguard, knowing that they will probably die but that in doing so they will allow for a more complete victory is neutral.

Not to say a good person wouldn't do the same, like you said, just because a good person performs the deed doesn't make it good.

The general may still be neutral even if the particular act is evil. Or the general may be evil. One thing about taking examples from real life is that there's no rule in real life that there must always be a good, neutral, and evil way of obtaining success in a given scenario. There's no such rule in D&D either of course, but the PCs playing paladins tend to get annoyed if the DM does too many damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenarios so they tend to come up less.

But even in the real life case, there can be moral shades to how you sacrifice men. Consider the difference between a general who says 'you all, go be the rearguard and die to save us!' and the general who says 'We need a rearguard or we all die. This is a dangerous mission, and they will most likely take heavy casualties or even be lost entirely. Before I assign men to this, I want volunteers.' My understanding is that in, e.g. the Napoleonic wars, the first people to storm the breach of the walls of a fort were basically doomed, so they asked for volunteers and gave instant promotion to anyone who survived (the so-called 'Forlorn Hope').

That has just turned it from 'sacrificing people' to 'letting people sacrifice themselves for a greater good', which by previous discussion has been considered to impact the alignment of the act.

Medic!
2012-01-31, 01:46 PM
I know alignment discussions have been done to death, but motivation can play a huge part as well. Taking the military example: The general in question has a captain that commands more loyalty from the troops than the general does (they like him better than me!) so that captain's platoon is constantly the vanguard or put in the riskiest situations in an effort to kill him. - Evil

The general has a risky mission that must be carried out, one of his captains constantly performs at a superior level and his platoon loves him dearly, this captain has the highest chance of success and survival in the vanguard despite the risk - Good

MOST actions can easily be justified as being taken from any alignment standpoint given the circumstances. And as to the "army clause" joining a command as a soldier or sailor usually implies a contract. In a mostly good situation/country/army it's an agreement that the soldier will follow orders and the officer will look out for the soldier's well-being. In an evil circumstance it's usually a scared (or devoted evil) soldier and an officer who views him as a means to an end or a tool. Just my 2 copper!

Suddo
2012-01-31, 01:53 PM
You always have to remember that if you keep trying then you maybe considered good. If the general of an army is cold calculating and decides sending a flanking team to their deaths to win the battle, they are neutral if they just understand that's what needs to be done, they are good if they feel bad because of it.
No if you go slaughtering 40% of the people to save 60% of the people its all a matter of context. Did you save the 60% and have to leave the other 40%, say you only have enough room in the bomb shelter? This is neutral. If you kill 40% of the population to gain enough power to kill the Big Bad then this is evil. The difference is one is more you save 60% the other is you kill 40%. This is the difference.